October Spirit of Mazda Nominees

Ten outstanding Mazda racers and aficionados await your vote for Spirit of Mazda

From racers to mechanics to race workers, there are many people in motorsports who embody the Spirit of Mazda. Mazda Motorsports seeks to recognize those who go above and beyond in their quest to be the best they can be. 

The Spirit of Mazda has seven basic principles. They are:

  • Integrity – We keep acting with integrity toward our customers, society and our own work.
  • Basics/Flawless Execution – We devote ourselves to the basics, and make steady efforts in a step-by-step fashion.
  • Continuous Kaizen – We continue to improve with wisdom and ingenuity.
  • Challenger Spirit – We set a high goal, and keep challenging to achieve it.
  • Self Initiative – We think and act with “self initiative.”
  • Tomoiku – We learn and teach each other for our mutual growth and success.
  • One Mazda – We think and act with the view of “Global” and “One Mazda.”

The nominees for the October Spirit of Mazda award are:

Michael Carter
Spec Miata competitor and NASA champion Danny Steyn referred to Michael Carter as a “young phenom who’s certainly going places.” The personable young racer has already been a finalist for the Road to 24 Shootout and just missed the podium at the 2017 Runoffs. In 2018, he won SCCA’s Southeast Conference title and, despite not arriving to the track until mid-week due to school commitments, had a top-10 Spec Miata finish in the Runoffs at Sonoma Raceway.

Matthew Dirks
Matthew Dirks won the NASA Rocky Mountain Division Spec Miata championship at only 14, and finished second in the Teen Mazda Challenge that same year. This year he won the Rocky Mountain Teen Mazda Challenge with victories in every race but one, and finished seventh in Spec Miata at the NASA Championships. This young racer has a bright future ahead of him.

Aaron Downey
Aaron Downey has been racing an E Production RX-3 for more than 15 years, and he’s been doing a darn fine job of it. Despite the car’s age, he and his father keep finding ways to make it faster. From the long straights of Daytona and Road America to the winding circuits of Sonoma and Mid-Ohio, he’s always a contender for an SCCA Runoffs podium.

Johanna Foege
Johanna Foege competes in a Mazdaspeed6 with her fiancé Clint Griest and was one of the recipients of the Wendi Allen Scholarship to help compete in national-level SCCA autocross events. She used that to good effect, going to eight national events that included SCCA’s Match Tours, Champ Tours, ProSolos and the Solo National Championships.

Mike Haag
Mike Haag has been racing Mazdas for four decades, competing in everything from GT-3 to Pro-7 and Spec Miata. He owns Haag Performance, which specializes in building Mazda engines – especially rotaries – transmissions and rear ends. He frequently spotlights his Northern California customers on his Web site.

Nick Leverone
You may know Nick Leverone, owner of Flatout Motorsports and race car builder. You might also know Nick Leverone, one of the fastest Spec Miata or Super Touring Lite drivers in the country. Either way, whether he’s building cars, preparing cars or driving, it’s always top-notch.

Amy Mills
Amy Mills has become a staunch competitor in Miatas, racing in both Spec Miata and Super Touring Lite in her easy-to-spot Miatas with the distinct zebra roof. She and her husband, Whitfield Greg, race with Nick Leverone’s Flatout Racing outfit all over the country, and in the 2018 Runoffs she finished just ahead of Greg in Spec Miata. She was headed toward a top-10 finish in STL when contact ended her day.

Larry Oka
Larry Oka Racing Services is a stalwart among Northern California prep shops, and was at the forefront of Spec Miata as the class was getting its footing. He currently has a fleet of SMs, SSMs and SMT cars to rent to racers. 

David Reynolds
David Reynolds started out road racing motorcycles, and he talks about racing those tracks with his three-time E Production SCCA national champion son, Miata racer Matt Reynolds. David got both of his sons started in racing though Spec Miata in Oklahoma and Texas.

Mike Rossini
Mike Rossini started out in motorcycles, managing and wrenching for successful young motocrossers. Years later, when he got the competition bug again, he tried Spec Miata and got hooked. He’s now one of the top engine builders for Spec Miata and is expanding his business to include full prep shop services.